We spent the next few days hiking through dramatic river valleys circumnavigating the west side Annapurna mountain range. The scenery looked a lot like Switzerland: burbling brooks, alpine vistas, temperate pine forests, moss covered rocks, etc. Idyllic villages dotted the landscape, famous for their locally brewed apple cider. Afternoon thunderstorms chased us to our daily destinations and, aside from a horrific bout of food poisoning (the salad was so tempting!), we made it through relatively unscathed. Finally we arrived at the final stop of the Annapurna Circuit, a town called Tatopani famous for its natural hot springs.
|Purest water on Earth|
We had finished both Upper Mustang and the Annapurna Circuit sections of our 33-day trek and the finale was almost in view: Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).
I thought I knew what stairs were. Seriously, there are stairs in San Diego, hills even. But nothing compares to the stairs leading up to Annapurna Base Camp, aka ABC. If you ever want to train for the Stairmaster World Championships this is the place to do it. The trail consists of thousands upon thousands of vertical meters of rocky stairs that go up as well as down, eventually leading up into the sanctuary in the middle of the Annapurna range.
|View of Fishtail peak from ABC|
We finally reached ABC after a long slog of a climb. The camp itself is surrounded by Annapurna's most scenic peaks. We sipped hot cocoa, crunched our way through the snow and watched the sunset turn the mountains rosy. Although a few of our fellow climbers fell victim to altitude sickness we had no problems, probably because we were already fully acclimated and the altitude was a mere 4,100 meters. The next morning we got up before dawn and watched the sunrise. It was gloriously clear and we had dazzling views of the different peaks.
The final few days of the trek were surprisingly challenging. We trudged our way through the hilly regional homeland of the famous Gurkha warriors to make it to the nearest road. At the end of our 33rd day we hopped into the first motorized vehicle we'd used in over a month and headed off to the lake town of Pokhara. No scales were available to test the effectiveness of the Himalayan weight loss plan but you can look at our pictures below and decide for yourselves.
Our tour of the Annapurnas was complete and our feet were ready for a well-earned rest...
|Valley the path follows|
|Keep that energy level up!|
|Sunrise on Annapurna I|
|Annapurna South (I think)|